Thursday, November 01, 2007

Cemetery Musings

In the Philippines, November 1 is such a big affair.

Folks flock to the cemeteries to visit the remains of their departed loved ones. Many go to churches to attend Mass. Those who don't have the time and resources to go to the cemeteries, satisfy themselves (as if relieving themselves of an obligation) by lighting candles in memory of their loved ones who have gone ahead of them.

During my postulancy last year, we went to a public cemetery in Batangas. Our seminary is located in Canlubang, Laguna. Hence, if you would ask me why there? I don't know.

The trip to the cemetery was a welcome news for the five of us (Gon, Migs, Boni, Joseph and I--Jesvir was still in Cebu), it was a refresher, a much needed break from the work in the farm.

When we reached the cemetery before noon time, we immediately prayed the rosary. The site was rather rustic. For somebody who trooped to Laloma during this season, I missed the fanfare and consumerism. No superfluous flowers were sold (only home made ones) and no free taste of certain products being launched in the market.

I lost count of the number of individuals who recognized Fr. Mols (he was once assigned in that area as a rector in DB Batulao) and greeted him when we were on our way out of the cemetery.

The experience of praying for the souls was great. Especially because we did not know any "residents" in that cemetery. Hence, this year of my novitiate, I looked forward to this day because of the sweet after taste of my experience last year.

Our formators told us that we have three cemeteries to visit. Our first stop was actually just a stone's throw away. In fact, the cemetery was located within the walls of the seminary complex. It's relatively new, it only houses two Salesians: Fr. Clifford and Fr. Dajao.

The second site we visited is not actually a cemetery. It’s a Salesian parish—which was declared a diocesan shrine last year. But it has a special place alloted for Fr. Bosch who built the humongous structure of what is now the shrine.

The last stop was a five-in-one cemetery complex. It has about three public cemeteries, a public cemetery and a Catholic cemetery.

The division is rather distinct because of the prominence of gates of the cemeteries for the upper middle class and elites, and in the case of the public cemetery, a signage.

In life, even in death, disparity is still a reality one needs to confront.